In light of the Volt post-crash fire disaster, GM announced that they are seeking out batteries that are less volatile for their upcoming 2013 Chevy Spark electric car. GM will be switching to a phosphate-based lithium ion battery from A123 Systems Inc. that are less likely to burn than other lithium chemistry, according to the companies.
It’s a testament to how quickly the battery technology is evolving for hybrid and electric cars, with just a two year gap since the Volt was first introduced. Currently GM and other companies are developing future vehicles with lithium phosphate technology because they’re safer and last longer. And why didn’t they do this sooner? Battery manufacturers weren’t ready to mass-produce them until recently.
It’ll be interesting to see if GM will ever get over this hump with the Volt and if sales of future electric cars will be impacted. Some could even argue that GM “jumped the gun” on electric vehicles when they knew better technology was around the corner. More interestingly however is that Jay Whitacre, assistant professor in materials science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh declared, “Safety isn’t the first reason carmakers are selecting it,” Whitacre said. “The batteries have a longer life. A123’s battery will outlast LG Chem’s battery.”
It is worth mentioning that the Volt investigation right now centers around the battery’s pack design and not its chemistry. They believe that any fix will involve the pack.
GALLERY: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
[Source: Automotive News]